Daily news summary

Telička: Czechs failed to realize potential of EU membership

The Czech Republic gained much through EU membership, but failed to make the best use of the potential it offered, according to former EU commissioner Pavel Telička. In an interview for the ctk news agency in connection with the upcoming 10th anniversary of the country’s accession to the EU on May 1st, Mr. Telička said Czechs had benefitted from the free movement of people, labour and goods, but due to their own negative attitude had thrown away the chance to help mould important concepts and norms that would later apply across the EU. We were viewed as a troublemaker and thus often left out of informal talks, Mr. Telička said. The present centre-left government has vowed to bring the country back to the EU mainstream and take an active part in moulding the future of Europe.

Burning Bush wins SIGNIS award at Hong Kong International Film Festival

The movie Burning Bush by Polish director Agnieszka Holland, depicting the aftermath of the self-immolation of Jan Palach following the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, has won the SIGNIS award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. The prize is awarded in recognition of films that express social and humanitarian concerns, as well as spiritual and artistic values. The film recently picked up a record 11 prizes at the Czech Lion film awards in Prague including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay.

Christian Democrats against summertime

The Christian Democrats of the governing coalition say their campaign for elections to the European Parliament will include a call for the alliance to scrap the annual transition to summertime. Tomáš Zdechovský who is third on the party’s ticket, says he is ready to support the initiative “For Only One Time” since the change has many negative impacts which were not anticipated and has not proved as cost-saving as earlier assumed.

Bil’ak’s memoirs published

A book by Vasil Bil’ak, a former hard-line communist leader who paved the way for the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, has hit bookshelves just two months after his death. In the book, which revolves around the crucial year 1968, Bil’ak admits that he knew about the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia a week in advance, but insists that he did not sign a letter of invitation to the former Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev which served as a pretext for the invasion. Bil’ak was charged with high treason in 1991 but the case was later closed for lack of evidence. The book’s publisher said Bil’ak had refused to release it for publishing before his death.

OKD miner dies in accident

A forty-one-year-old miner died in an accident at the OKD Darkov mine in Karviná on Saturday night, the ctk news agency reports. He is the third OKD miner to be killed in an accident since the start of this year. The accident is being investigated by a team of experts. A spokesman for OKD said safety norms were strictly observed and the number of accidents in recent years had been significantly reduced.

Southern Prague hit by power failure

Tens of thousands of households in Prague were hit by a brief power failure on Sunday, the ctk news agency reported. According to a spokesman for the PRE power company the fall-out hit the entire southern part of the metropolis and was caused by a technical failure at the Chodov power transmitter. The cause of the failure is being investigated. Most households were without power for around 30 minutes.

Czechs beat Japan 5:0 in Davis Cup quarterfinals

The Czech Republic wrapped up its Davis Cup quarterfinal against Japan on Sunday with two more victories to complete a 5-0 sweep. Lukáš Rosol beat Yasutaka Uchiyama 6:3 3:6 6:4 in the first reverse singles three-set dead rubber at Ariake Coliseum while Jiří Veselý defeated Taro Daniel 6:4 6:4 in the second match. The Czechs, chasing their third straight title, had already secured a fifth semi-final spot in six years after winning the doubles on Saturday. They will now advance to a semi-final against the winner of the quarterfinal between Germany and France in the semi-finals in September.